DAZZLES THE BAY AREA
By Iride Aparicio
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Under the baton of Music Director ROBERT BILLINGTON, the music of CHICAGO (JOHN KANDER) was right on the beat, played with the precision of a clock, each “tick” and “tack” perfectly marked by the orchestra. The audience could feel each Jazz syncopation, each crescendo, each diminuendo. All the nuances of the music were there for the dancers to interpret it, which they did with style. On that night, they danced to the choreography created by BOB FOSSE, as he should have wanted. Rhythmically, synchronized, all the dancers looking like one, their hands with spreaded fingers shaking in the air like fluttering buttterflies. And when the actors sang, they sang in tune and made us feel each word. The FRED EBB’s marvelous lyrics came out of their lips clearly, interpreted with feeling.
And with Roxie Hart (BIANCA MARROQUIN) shooting her lover (FRED CASELY) in the bedroom of her house, the drama starts. Amos Hart (JACOB KEITH WATSON) Roxie’s loving husband pleads the innocence of his wife. She killed him in self defense, the man was not her lover, it was an intruder" He says, but Amos looks too homely to the police to be convincing. Roxie is sent to the women’s jail. And what jail this was.
For different reasons, Liz (ROBIN MASELLA) Annie (SHERISSE SPINGER) June (LAURA OLDMAN) Hunyak (AURORE JOLY) and Mona (ALLISON BLAIR McDOWELL) had "disposed" of their husbands or lovers for different reasons. Since all convinced that their reason was valid, they are not repented for committing their crime. The principal among them is Velma Kelly (TERRA C MacLEOD) whose crime gave her notoriety and gave her fame.
Her photographs appear now in the front pages of all the newspapers. But…that was before Roxie (MARROQUIN) came to the prison. Roxie is younger than she is, and she caught the eye of “Mama” (ROZ RYAN) the jail Matron, who sells “phone calls” and serves as the Public Relations (PR) person to certain prisoners, securing them interviews with the press, and pasting their names and pictures on the news papers. With her help, Roxie is now known as the girl who “Rocks Chicago”. By paying $5000, with the help of Andy her husband, she had also secured the services of Billy Flynt.(JOHN O’HURLEY, the best criminal lawyer in Chicago and the most famous.
With the arrival of Roxie to the prison, Velma (MacLEOD) sees her fame diminishing. Roxie had learned all her tricks fast and even invented "new ones."
And with dialogue and dances the story continues, with songs like “All That Jazz” and “I can do it alone” both perfectly sung by Velma, in which she realizes that if she wants fame she needs the help of another person who wants fame as much as she does: Roxie.
On opening night, this SHN Production of CHICAGO presented at the SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, dazzled the audience with a set of actors who conveyed the satire on the musical with conviction, making the satirical story (book written by FRED EBB & BOB FOSSE) feel “real.” Billy Flynn (O’HURLEY) the criminal Lawyer even acted like a Broadway's star, as he entered the “court”surrounded by a group of statuesque dancers wearing white feather fans and hats like those worn by the Ziegfeld Follies. His most unprofessional act and the funniest, is using Roxie (MARROQUIN) as a human puppet as she describes her crime to the jury. MARROQUIN's antics made it marvelous.
And to make it entertaining, there are a contrast of happy and sad songs like "Mr. Cellophane" sung with a lot of feeling by WATSON, in which Amos claims that because nobody pays attention to him, he feels “invisible.” Yes, poor Amos is so plain, that even Flynn, his wife’s lawyer, cannot remember his name.
To describe the opening night of CHICAGO, we could say that it was a night with an ensemble of stars, and we can add that on that night each one of them shone bright, when interpreting their songs, in their acting, and specially in their magnificent dancing.
CHICAGO will continue playing until November 16. For tickets go to Shnsf.com or call 888-746-1799.